John Martin (1 Viewer)

jordan

lothario speedwagon
i think i'm posting in the right place, since JM did publish a great deal of "books, magazines, and publications"...

so, it seems from reading that JM is a controversial figure around here, and despite the stories of some pretty cold business decisions (which i know is a favorable choice of words compared to what some think), i was still starstruck by the guy seeing him in born into this (and seeing his collection of black sparrow books in the background while he was being interviewed).

so, this post is meant to dispel the "martin myth" (for me, at least) that he did great things for advancing literature and poetry in the 2nd half of the 20th century... and i probably hold this myth not only because of the reverence i have for black sparrow books, but because articles about him and the press lionize him to the degree i just mentioned.

so, besides amber, who else did he screw over? if he was willing to justify 25% of his salary to take a chance on bukowski, does that not justify him preventing other people who weren't willing to take that chance at first from making money off of his writing (not a rhetorical question/definitely not referring to amber's book either)? are there stories of him going out of his way to fuck people over (vindictively), or was he just overzealous in protecting bukowski's work?

also, does anyone know if he reads these forums (hi john, i love you xoxo)? i'm curious, since this is pretty much the keystone place where the bukowski legacy lives on, you'd think anyone who has such a vested interest in said legacy would log on from time to time. ok, so let's discuss... learn me good, everyone.
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
Hi,
I have said this before on this forum. I have nothing but nice things to say about John Martin. I know that others on this forum disagree and I respect thier point, but for me, He has always been great.

As far as protecting the work, I think that this is important on two levels:

1) To protect the "Brand". Who would buy a Bukowski book if they had read ALL of the poems already. The magazines got the work out there, but certailny to allow BSP and Bukowski (and his heirs) to make money (at least enough to live on, comfortable), it would be important to keep every publisher out there from putting out their own books. Yes, BSP made money off of Buk's work, but keep in moind that the BIG publishers out there woudl have made MORE money. The smaller ones caqn promise whatever they want. In the end, small press publishers, as a rule (and I am a small press publisher), have lettle money and pay in contributor's copies. Those that promise royalties frequently cannot pay them, or keep shoddy records and cannot pay what they should.

2) To protect Bukowski directly. This is where something, like the Amber book would come into play. This would only hurt the Bukowski image. The same with the Jim Christy book. I read the letter that someone referred to where Marti seems upset by the publication of the photos of Buk and Tina Darby. I say that I cannot blame huim. This paints Buk in a light that is not consistent with trying to convince the public that Bukowski is a serious writer and not just a drunken, dirty old man that also writes.

In the end, John Martin does not need my defending. What he did is to gamble every penny that he had to bring Bukowski out of the littles and into the big time. Could LouJon have done it? No. They were geniuses with the press, but were not great business people. John had the eye for the poems (in my opinion) and had a great business sense that allowed Buk to make a living off of his writing, without having to compromise, and allowed us to have the ability to read his thousands of poems and short stories without having to track down a bunch of obscure poetry magazines and pay tens of thousands of dollars finding them. Probably 90% of all poems that Buk published in the littles are still in print, thanks to John Martin and his press. John was able to get Bukowski books into the big chain bookstores. He is the only press, that I know of that had a deal that he would send the books, but would not take returs. This is a huge feat. The big bookstores have a habit of buying books, letting them sit on the shelves and get "finger-fucked" until they are returned FOR FULL CREDIT to the publisher in a condition that makes them unsellable. My understanding was that John Martin was able to get the bookstores to buy the books, but did not give them that options. That is the power of Bukowski that Martin brought. The bookstores had no option but to take the deal because BSP had put Bukowski in that high of a demand.

It is because of John Martin that most of us know who Bukowski is. Bukowski knew that. Most people do not read the littles. Those that do, usually find them through someone like Bukowski and his BSP books. I know that the first time that I read Bukowski, it was in a Black Sparrow Book, purchased in a Border bookstore.

I'm not sure if reads this forum. I would guess that he probably does not.

All best,
Bill
 

mjp

Founding member
I would guess that he does read this. In fact, I would bet my shelves full of his books that he reads this. He certainly read smog.net when the Bukowski database lived over there. I would also bet that if you asked him he would say, "No, no, no, forum? What forum? I don't know what you're talking about."

Martin's dedication to Bukowski and modern poetry in general is unquestioned. But remember, Black Sparrow did come to the brink of failure. He said himself in Born Into This that they turned their first profit the very month he was ready to throw in the towel. If LouJon (or some other indie publisher) had the same deal with Bukowski and been able to publish as much of his work as Black Sparrow did, would they have failed? We can't really say, because they didn't have that opportunity.

Martin is a good businessman, but take Bukowski out of the Black Sparrow catalog and you do not have the success that it became. Just wouldn't have happened. And if you take Weissner out of the mix, would Bukowski have had the same financial success? You have to admit the answer is 'no.' So it was the synergy between the three of them, in a lot of ways, that made the whole thing come together. It was what it was.

My personal beef with Martin is just that, a personal beef. It doesn't cloud my opinion of his accomplishments, but it does cloud my opinion of him and his business practices.
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
can you really take bukowski out of the mix? or is that like saying, "ford was a good business man, but take cars out of the mix and where would he be?" bukowski was the good business decision that martin made (in hindsight- it probably didn't seem like a great decision at the time) that enabled him to get the ball rolling. couldn't loujon have had the same deal with him, if they had had the capital to offer him the deal before martin did? i guess it could be perceived as a luxury that he had 50,000 to start off with, but it seems like a gutsy investment that ended up paying such huge dividends.
 

mjp

Founding member
bukowski was the good business decision that martin made (in hindsight- it probably didn't seem like a great decision at the time) that enabled him to get the ball rolling.
I used to think the same thing, but if you look at the Black Sparrow catalog overall, Bukowski figures prominently, but his work only accounts for 10 or 12 of the first 100 Black Sparrow publications. Martin was betting on a lot of writers, Bukowski just turned out to be the biggest and most consistent money maker.

Getting the right of first refusal for all his work was a very shrewd business deal, especially considering that it was obtained for next to nothing. That legendary "$100 a month" is equal to someone paying you $500 a month to quit your job today. Would you take that deal? A calculated risk on Martin's part, certainly, but not a huge gamble. If Bukowski hadn't had money socked away in savings he could not have quit the PO in 1970 to write his first novel, and everything may have been different.

Maybe.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
I have said this before on this forum. I have nothing but nice things to say about John Martin. I know that others on this forum disagree and I respect thier point, but for me, He has always been great. [...] It is because of John Martin that most of us know who Bukowski is. Bukowski knew that. Most people do not read the littles. Those that do, usually find them through someone like Bukowski and his BSP books...

Bill: I'm sure many of us here respect you and your friendly relationship with John Martin. Without question, Martin made it possible for Bukowski to develop into a world class author, both in accomplishments and reputation. One of the great things about this forum is that there are many divergent views, and yet, as long as there is respect, we remain friends. I have no big point here -- just wanted to say I pay close attention to everything you say and always find wisdom in your words.
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
Hi,
Also, IF he reads this, he no doubt would not have an issue with anything that is said, good or bad. You don't get to that level and let people's liking/dis-liking for you get to you, personally.

I will say, though that it is tough when you do what you think is right and then find yourself ridiculed on a forum. I'm not speaking of John, but of me. There are a few folks that don't seem to see any value in what I am doing and make a point of mentioning it on forums. Of course, I'm vain and Google myself (insert joke here) at times and always find someone that wants to complain about me. I need a thicker skin, I think!

Bill
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
i found out that i was nominated for a darwin award by some asshole with a blog (well, not me personally, but a group of people that included me)... the possibility of hearing that you deserve to die because of your own stupidity is a good reason not to google yourself...
 
It's just killing me to read these negative things about Martin. I started collecting when I was dopy 23 year-old and throughout the decades he has always suffered my idiot questions with patience and grace and has provided invaluable guidance to me - at absolutely no personal gain to himself. I have always found him to be a complete gentleman and when I read that he stands accused of greed and unscrupulous business practices, it saddens/irritates me. Who the fuck are you people talking about? That's not the guy I know.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
i found out that i was nominated for a darwin award by some asshole with a blog (well, not me personally, but a group of people that included me)... the possibility of hearing that you deserve to die because of your own stupidity is a good reason not to google yourself...

That group wouldn't have the initials GPP, would it? Hope not, as I am a member myself and never thought of myself as so stupid I was in danger of extinction, although, now that I consider it, that seems possible (but not because I'm in the GPP).
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
That group wouldn't have the initials GPP, would it? Hope not, as I am a member myself and never thought of myself as so stupid I was in danger of extinction, although, now that I consider it, that seems possible (but not because I'm in the GPP).

no, not a formal group- a group of people that included me was in an accident, some died, some got hurt, and some douchebag decided to respect the tragedy by writing about how we all deserved to die. pure class.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
My mistake. I always figure I'm the one being singled out for criticism. Sounds like a serious story, Jordan. Mountainclimbing accident? I don't know why I guessed that; maybe because I always thought a person would have to have a death wish to climb a mountain. I never want to go to sleep saying my prayers in an ice cave, but that's just me. I'm sure it's a fine hobby.
 
John Martin has been nothing but gracious and kind to me in all my dealings with him whether it be to answer a question or just discuss the symbiotic relationship he had with Buk. If it was not for John Martin, there would not even be this forum to discuss Bukowski. Why all the carping and mean spirited rumors and innuendos about John? The naysayers all appear to have nothing but idle speculation without any primary knowledge of the intricacies of the relationship of Buk and John. Can't you understand they both prospered? Buk had an all encompassing loyalty to John for what he did for him and, they genuinely liked each other. In correspondence to me on July 30, 2003 ,John called Buk his "favorite author" : "Hank was a man of great loyalty and charm, and working with him for 36 years was a privilege." Buk and John appear to have gotten along a hell a lot better than many of the people on this site. They also spent more time being productive rather than playing this shallow intellectual masturbation game of exchanging observations that are not grounded in reality. If John can be faulted for anything, it was his being very protective of Buk and his work----if that is a fault-----wouldn't we all like to have someone that cared for us so much as a FRIEND as well as business associate to protect any legacy we had. Oh yea, most of you know, or should know that John was Buk's best man at his wedding.


I love you all in a manly way.


ORIGINALLY POSTED BY JORDAN does anyone know if he reads these forums (hi john, i love you xoxo)? i'm curious, since this is pretty much the keystone place where the bukowski legacy lives on, you'd think anyone who has such a vested interest in said legacy would log on from time to time. ok, so let's discuss... learn me good, everyone.

I sincerely doubt that John reads this forum. It is really a place for Bukophile cult people like us. With all due respect, " the keystone place where the Bukowski legacy lives on" is not here but in bookstores and libraries where the uninitiated discover the genius of Buk and then pass on their excitement to others. John told me that Buk wanted to keep spreading his word in books even after his death---and John certainly has done that for Ecco. The vested interest is not with those who already have been baptized here but future generations.
 

mjp

Founding member
John Martin has been nothing but gracious and kind to me...
If he has been "gracious and kind" to you, that's lovely, but that doesn't preclude him being less than kind to others.

My less-than-lovely experience with him is not based on "rumor," "innuendo" or "idle speculation...not grounded in reality." I don't even tell the story publicly, because I don't want to piss all over anyone's image of him as some sort of benevolent literary Santa Claus.

But that's my reality. Yours and Bill's and everyone else who never experienced anything but blue skies and sunshine where he was concerned are just as valid and true.

Anyone who wants to suggest that Martin (or Bukowski or you or me) is beyond reproach is at the very least, misguided.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Dermaface: For a different experience, try writing something about Bukowski (with or without quoting Buk's letters).
 
Hey David,
I hope you are well. I do not understand what you mean write something about Bukowski-- poem, essay or anything?

MJP,
A valid point since you appear to have encountered a bad experience with John. Anyone else here who has a good or bad experience with John certainly can engage us as long as it is rooted in reality and not mere conjecture. I certainly would like to hear about it if you are willing either here or in a private message. I understand if you do not want to but without telling the story your statement, I fear, falls into the label innuendo since it is a indirect and disparaging remark that is mere insinuation. Insinuation is often worse than the truth, ie " Bob did something to his wife that is horrible." but I do not want to say what he did. With all the creative minds on the forum, I am sure free flow thoughts may think the act was horrendous.
The tenor of what Bill and I said was limited to addressing our experience with John. Neither of us claimed that "Martin (or Bukowski or you or me ) is beyond reproach." Wait a minute---Bill may be beyond reproach since whenever I have seen him there is a sound of angels over him. Of course, every time I have seen Bill we were drinking.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
Hi Ross,

I'm great, for a guy who needs to learn when to keep his mouth shut. This whole topic (commenting about anyone, anytime) is a minefield for me. No matter what I say, no matter how evasive or coy I try to be, I feel like a crumb (not a Crumb) when I talk about someone else and what they do or don't do. That said...

What I meant is that if you write a separate publication, something that competes in the marketplace for dollars, then you will encounter some static on your radio, and bolts of lightening will strike your car on the highway, and spoons will bend in your presence.

Writing a poem or essay that's published in a magazine will not have these effects.
 

mjp

Founding member
dermaface said:
...without telling the story your statement, I fear, falls into the label innuendo since it is a indirect and disparaging remark that is mere insinuation.
You know, I typed up a 700 word explanation of what happened with every intention of dropping it in here, but I still don't want to post it. If my story is just innuendo without the details, so be it. I'll live with that. Anyone who wants to read it can PM me.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
mjp: wise move. You know, I already feel bad about my post of a couple hours ago.

I would not be sad if this was one of those threads that just evaporate over night. I'm going to do my damnest to avoid looking at it again.
 
E

Eldragon

If it wasn't for John Martin's gamble, there wouldn't be no Bukowski. Besides that Bukowski wouldn't ever make it in todays market. Let's face it he wasn't that good.
 

Brother Schenker

Founding member
If it wasn't for John Martin's gamble, there wouldn't be no Bukowski.

You're obviously a troll...and your time is limited in this forum, no doubt.

Bukowski was already getting stuff published in magazines and in book form before he met Martin. He would've "made it" without Martin just fine.
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
i didn't mean to start this as something to upset people, and certainly not to talk shit about JM. to me, JM is part of the bukowski culture- an integral part- and just as we dispel myths about Buk, i was wondering how people who've dealt with our met john *actually* felt about him in order to dispel my own myth of him. i agree that he probably doesn't give a shit what any of us think because he knows what he contributed to literature, and i doubt he second guesses himself much at this stage. so i wasn't trying to offend anyone or have a high-school bitch fest or anything...
 

mjp

Founding member
I think if we're going to de-mythologize Bukowski, it's fitting to hear all sides where Martin is concerned too. I don't know what purpose it serves aside from satisfying curiosity and the lovely human nature of gossip, but here we are, so what the hell.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
It does serve a purpose, historically speaking. Some time in the future, somebody may want to write a book on BSP/Buk/Small Press and then all info (hopefully) will be available - warts and all...
 
JM has mellowed over the decades--esp after The Buk dropped his body & moved elsewhere. When I was about to publish my first Checklist in the early 1980s I had contacted Bukowski to ask if he would sign a few copies (25) of "Same Old Thing, Shakespeare Through Mailer" a broadside I had gotten from Marvin Malone (Wormwood Review) & which I was going to insert & paste into my Checklist which wd constitute a limited edition. Bukowski agreed to sign the 25 copies. He signed them and was about to send them off to me, when JM intervened & told the Buk not to send. Buk --in turn--notified me that upon the advice of his Publisher, he would not be sending the 25 signed broadsides. I had already pre-sold the limited edition, so when I received the news I was LIVID, FUMING. I let Buk have it in a verbal attack--and it was the only time that the Buk & I had a flare-up (lasted about 6 months of no correspondence). But then--unexpectedly-- I received a rather large package from (none other than) the BUK & along with the 25 signed Broadsides there was a letter that read "I'm sorry and I apologize..Send me anything you need signed. To me a guy like you knows a hell of a lot more about life than the first 5000 I follow on the freeway.." Bukowski had integrity beyond reproach. As to Martin, looking back in retro, he was only trying to protect his Star & his (John's) own interest. Can't blame him. That was my only (indirect) dealing with John Martin. Post Script: I sent the 25 signed Broadsides back to Malone to distribute as he wished. So If you are fortunate enough to have one of the 25 signed Broadsides "Same Old Thing, Shakespeare Through Mailer" , you NOW know how they got signed! Al
 

Ponder

"So fuck Doubleday Doran"
RIP
Thanks for the background story, niceguy.

I found this on the internet:

BUKOWSKI, Charles. Sample page for The Wormwood Review printing "Same Old Thing, Shakespeare Through Mailer" by Bukowski. n.p.:n.p., [1963]. One of only 29 numbered copies signed by Bukowski, and the editor, Marvin Malone. Issued by Malone to promote his magazine that provided an important early showcase for Bukowski. Fine. Scarce, early ephemera from 1963. SKB-3000

$300

http://www.sweetbooks.com/bu.htm
 
I had already pre-sold the limited edition, so when I received the news I was LIVID, FUMING. I let Buk have it in a verbal attack--and it was the only time that the Buk & I had a flare-up (lasted about 6 months of no correspondence).
Very cool story. Wow, you let Hank have it huh. That must have been weird. I have your guide and every time I open it I'm amazed at the job you did.
 

Rekrab

Usually wrong.
I got a copy of the "Same old thing" broadside from Marvin Malone but not signed. Hmm. Guess I wasn't in his top 25. Oh well. I'm not taking it personally.
 
As some readers already know, but it has not been mentioned so far in this thread, Martin's Black Sparrow Press reclaimed John Fante's legacy from literary obscurity, and his marvelous novels have sold to the tune of thousands upon thousands of dollars and greatly benefited his widow, Joyce.

Some critics don't consider Fante a major novelists, but I do. I recently reread his last novel Dreams of Bunker Hill - dictated to his wife because he was blind from his diabetic complications, - and it was as good a read as I remembered it from my first time years ago. Simply evocative, fresh as a spring flower and glowing with the struggles of youth - I found it marvelously satisfying.

In addition, without the visibility brought to Fante through Martin/Sparrow, Ask the Dust as a movie might never have been produced and it has led to even greater exposure for this previously undervalued and neglected writer, regardless of the merits of the film. (I was moved by it after the film finally got off the ground.)

Fante's legacy was a by-product of the Martin/Bukowski collaboration, but if Martin hadn't thought that Fante's words were worth putting into print, he probably wouldn't have published him regardless of Bukowski's veneration. I score that as two major literary bulls-eyes for Martin.

It's not so much the numerous minor literary talents that may not have made it because Martin felt that they were good enough to be published, but the two righteous literary figures that Martin didn't miss and brought out of the shadows into the light.

Martin could afford to take a chance and invest in these 'lesser' writers because of his Bukowski/Fante profits, and they were other examples of his willingness to gamble in order to give them exposure.

Bukowski gambled on a career in writing and on the horses; Martin gambled on his stable of literary unknowns, and I would guess that the outcome was somehow satisfying to him regardless of how far the relative unknowns fell short of the enormous sales that Bukowski and Fante generated. Through Martin's literary gambles - with his money on the line - I have enjoyed countless hours of satisfying, life-affirming reading.

Good luck to him with whatever he's doing now....
 
What do all these writers have in common?

Andrei Codrescu
Theodore Dreiser
Wright Morris
John Wieners
Clayton Eshelman
John Yau
Gerard Malanga
William Everson
Jane Bowles
Gertrude Stein
Ekbert Fass
Charles Reznikoff
John Sanford
Wanda Coleman
Jack Spicer
Charles Olsen
D. H. Lawrence
Wyndham Lewis
Paul Bowles
Joyce Carol Oates
Tom Clark
Robert Creely
Fielding Dawson
Michael McClure
Diane Wakoski
Eve Shelnutt
Sherril Jaffe
Edward Sanders (Anyone remember the rock group the FUGS from the '60s?)

...and as a hint, let's throw two other writers into the group

John Fante
Charles Bukowski

Game, set and match to John Martin and his Black Sparrow Press!

The above list is but a portion of the writers John published over 36 years.
Also, many other writers were put into print for the first time by John.
 

Ponder

"So fuck Doubleday Doran"
RIP
As some readers already know, but it has not been mentioned so far in this thread, Martin's Black Sparrow Press reclaimed John Fante's legacy from literary obscurity...[snip]

Good luck to him with whatever he's doing now....Poptop.

Nothing new expect the last line.
 

cirerita

Founding member
Uh... no, I don't think so. Why?

It's a very unusual interview with Bukowski as most of the questions are Fante-related. The interviewer was doing some research on Fante at the time and she decided to interview Bukowski on the subject.
 
planahea,

beautiful list! Would love to have been able to shake your hand on this one.

all the best to you.

Nothing new expect the last line.

Lol...much appreciated, Ponder... It's good to know of your interest in the young people passing through here, perhaps for the first time, who may not have over a thousand posts under their belt or may not know exactly how much you know about Fante's resurgence in popularity through Martin's efforts and the extent that he promoted other writers who are still worth reading... Everyone has a first time... Perhaps I just felt like writing something glowing out of gratitude for Martin, so well understood, of course, that Fante's name isn't mentioned even once in over 31 posts in this particular thread, without a reader having to dig it out of other threads... Someone may pick up on Dreams... and decide to read it now, and they'll know that Fante was blind when he dictated it to his wife Joyce and it still has the freshness of youth like it was written yesterday - an amazing feat for a sick and dying man who was being carved up by his surgeons to prevent gangrene because of his out-of-control diabetes... My post also led to a posting of the complete list of Black Sparrow authors promoted by Martin, and that goes out to the newcomers as well - I'd forgotten how extensive the list was, thanks to planahea, and I got to personally thank him for it - another gain that might benefit others... I think some of you discount someone else's efforts to give a relative newcomer, perhaps groping in the dark somewhere, looking for some light of inspiration found in unsuspected places - the same chance of discovery. I think it's important to remember one's own roots and never take the first time for granted, and I remain grateful to the sacrifices these great writers made to get their words out at great cost to themselves and the chance to express that gratitude in my own words, even at the risk of boring those who've seen and done it all. They didn't just write words - they were real people... Anyway, sorry to have bored you and I thank you for the unexpected chance to further expand on why I felt that Fante's last novel, Dreams From Bunker Hill, is well worth reading, perhaps one of his best. It leaves the wistful impression that he was a master writer who had many more novels in him, even at that late stage in life, but he simply ran out of time. And through the extent of Martin's efforts, he is likely to be read and remembered for a long, long time.

Luck, Poptop.
 
poptop,

You are very welcome. (extending hand)

The BSP author list below is by no means complete or even comprehensive.
I just grew tired of typing names. It could easily have been at least three times as long.

John Fante had his work suppressed and he was blacklisted in Hollywood and in book publishing circles during the Sen. Joe McCarthy and his "Red Scare" era of the 50's or he would have surely found a far better place in the literary sun.

Keep up the good struggle against the polemicists.

Bill
 
A pleasure.

I was fascinated to learn that Fante was blacklisted during the bleak days of McCarthyism. I had no idea - terrible. It seems that he had continual bad luck as a novelist and it profoundly affected his success and renown until way later in life. I think that his deferred success may have also led to a profound distrust of people and a bitterness in life. Bukowski was one of the few people that Fante allowed into his inner sanctum.

Apropos of Fante, I wish I could remember where I heard or read why Ask the Dust, published in 1939, wasn't more successful at the time. Fante's answer was something to the effect of... "bad luck... and Hitler!" Still not sure of the details on this, but Fante said something like, the publisher of Hitler's Mein Kampf - the same publisher Fante had - was sued and they had to pay back-royalties to the Führer himself and Fante's publisher went down. More rotten luck. If anyone knows more about this, I'd like to know. I'm beginning to find Fante's life as fascinating as Bukowski's and I'm crazy about some of his novels. There was so much good writing left in him that never came out - the spirit of eternal youth that never died.

Thanks again... and a toast to you.

Sincerely, Haizen
 
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